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An Introduction to Garden History

Back by popular demand! If you are interested in gardens generally but would love to know more about the history of gardens and garden design through the ages, then this is the course for you.

This course offers students with little or no previous knowledge a chronological panorama of the development of garden history from medieval and Tudor gardens through to the twentieth century, and will end with the twenty-first century, tomorrow’s history in the making! The seven lectures will run over three Sundays and be delivered by well-known and distinguished speakers in their fields. Students will have the additional benefit of an introduction to the Garden Museum’s fascinating collections and archives.


February 9     

Medieval and Tudor Gardens: Elisabeth Whittle

Seventeenth-century formal gardens: Dr Sally Jeffery

February 23   

The English landscape garden: Dr David Jacques

Eighteenth-century town gardens: Dr Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

March 8         

The Victorian garden: Stephen Smith

Twentieth-century gardens: Dr Katie Campbell

Twenty-first-century gardens: Tim Richardson

Note that on March 8 the lectures start at 10.30 and finish at 4.30.

Tea and coffee will be provided before each session. The lunch break will be between 1.00-2.00, with the option of booking it at the Garden Museum café.

The course is being run by the Gardens Trust in association with the Garden Museum.

Banner image: Victorian Flower Bedding designs by Matthew Ball, gardener (1817-1905)

A Victorian Head Gardener would design annual displays of bedding. Matthew Ball’s drawing shows how he has calculated the number of plants required; he would then turn his team’s attention to grow thousands of plants in hothouses in order to be in flower at the same time.

Speaker bios

  • Elisabeth Whittle

    Elisabeth Whittle

    Elisabeth Whittle is a garden historian with a special interest in Tudor and Jacobean gardens. She has a wide knowledge of the historic parks and gardens of Wales, having been the Inspector of Historic Parks, Gardens and Landscapes for the Welsh Government's historic monuments service, Cadw, for many years. During this time Elisabeth designed a recreated medieval garden at Tretower Court in Powys and a Tudor garden at Plas Mawr, Conway, Wales. She has written extensively, most recently about the water features in Cambridge at the beginning of the 17th century. She has been joint editor of Garden History, is a former president of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and a trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

  • Dr Sally Jeffery

    Dr Sally Jeffery

    Dr Sally Jeffery is an architectural and garden historian. Her principal areas of research and teaching are the houses and gardens of the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy, and of the 17th and early 18th centuries in England, France and The Netherlands. Sally was architectural and garden historian at the City of London for many years and now lectures on the MA Garden and Landscape History at the Institute of Historical Research. She is a Trustee of The Gardens Trust. Among her many publications on garden history are ‘The formal gardens at Moor Park in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’, Garden History 24:2 (Winter 2014); ‘Humphry Repton’s Report on Wanstead’ in Repton in London (London Parks and Gardens Trust, 2018) and ‘Hawksmoor’s Vision of Wray Wood, Castle Howard’, Architectural History 61 (2018).

  • Dr. David Jacques

    Dr. David Jacques

    Dr. David Jacques is a landscape historian and conservationist. Having trained as a planner and landscape architect, David became a lecturer, author and consultant on historic landscapes, parks and gardens. He was Inspector of Historic Parks and Gardens at English Heritage for many years. A trustee of Chiswick House, David has also worked internationally as an advisor on the conservation of world heritage sites. His books include Georgian Gardens and Gardens of Court and Country among others, his latest publication being Landscape Appreciation – Theories since the Cultural Turn.

  • Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

    Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

    Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan is a landscape architect, garden historian and author with an international design practice based in London. He holds a variety of advisory roles including Gardens Adviser to the Historic Royal Palaces. Todd lectures widely on landscape history and design and has written several books, including The London Town Garden 1700-1840 and The London Square. He is president of the London Parks and Gardens Trust.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith, garden historian and horticulturist, started his career as a professional horticulturist before he began teaching horticulture and garden history at Capel Manor College. He subsequently became Landscape Manager for the Grosvenor Estate in London. Since 2012 Stephen has worked as a freelance consultant specialising in historic landscapes and gardens. He is currently researching for a PhD at Queen Mary University of London.

  • Dr. Katie Campbell

    Dr. Katie Campbell

    Dr. Katie Campbell is writer and garden historian. She lectures widely and has taught at Birkbeck, Bristol and Buckingham universities. She writes for various publications and leads art and garden tours. Her most recent book, British Gardens in Time, accompanied the BBC television series. Her penultimate book, Paradise of Exiles, explored the eccentric Anglo-American garden-makers in late 19th century Florence. Katie is beginning work on Virgil and the Bees - a social history of beekeeping.

  • Tim Richardson

    Tim Richardson

    Tim Richardson is a garden and landscape historian and critic and the author of a number of books including The Arcadian Friends: The Invention of the English Landscape Garden, Avant Gardeners, English Gardens in the Twentieth Century and The New English Garden. His next book is on Cambridge college gardens (a companion to his book on Oxford). Tim teaches landscape history at London University and wrote Oxford University's course on English garden history. He is art critic for The Idler and was theatre critic at Country Life for 23 years.

Image: Victorian Bedding designs by Matthew Ball, gardener (1817-1905)